Fly fishing in France

Guided fly fishing trips in France. Fly fishing for trout in the best rivers and lakes of the French Alps.

France offers incredible opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts, ranging from trout fishing in the majestic Alps, the imposing Pyrenees, and the serene Massif Central, to thrilling grayling fishing in the Allier River, and even salmon fishing in rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.

Our fly fishing trips in France:

In the French Alps we offer one guided fly fishing operation:

Why Fly Fishing in France?

France is the most visited country in the world by tourists. Its cultural richness, long history, monuments, museums, and traditions attract many visitors. What many tourists may not be aware of is that, in addition to visiting iconic places like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the beaches of the French Riviera, or the Alps, they can also indulge in a variety of options for fly fishing.

In Europe, there are well-established fly fishing destinations such as the Spanish Pyrenees or Iceland. While fly fishing in the French Alps may not be as spectacular as in the Spanish Pyrenees, it shares certain similarities and offers great possibilities.

Fly fishing in France is characterized by its technical aspects, targeting small to medium-sized fish in incredibly beautiful locations while pursuing wild fish. This country boasts some of the world’s best anglers and is a perfect destination for refining your technique under the guidance of expert competitors.

The ideal destination for fly fishing in France is the vicinity and interior of the Écrins National Park, in the Southern Alps, within the territory of French Provence. This region features numerous rivers and lakes with a climate that blends influences from the Alps and the Mediterranean. While this part of France might not be as famous as Mont Blanc, it is undoubtedly similar in beauty and offers the best opportunities for fly fishing for brown trout and wild grayling throughout France.

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Fly fishing season in France:

In France, there is no uniform fishing season for the entire country. Each of the 97 regions with the authority to organize and regulate fishing in France determines the fishing season based on the classification of waters and the species that inhabit them.

All regions distinguish between two major fishing periods, corresponding to rivers and lakes of first and second category.

Fly Fishing Season in First Category Waters:
First category rivers and lakes are those where the predominant species are salmonids, such as trout, salmon, grayling, or brook trout. We are referring to the middle and upper reaches of rivers, with colder and less contaminated waters and more fragile ecosystems.
In these locations, the fishing season typically opens in mid to late March, and the season closes in mid-September or mid-October, depending on the region. In regions with mountain lakes, the season usually begins in May. Similarly, in first category waters where grayling inhabit, the season typically starts later, usually around mid-May.
In some first category rivers, pike also inhabit; in these rivers or lakes, pike fishing is usually allowed from late April to mid-September, with variations depending on the region.

Fishing Seasons in Second Category Waters:
Second category rivers and lakes are those where the predominant species are cyprinids and some other predator species. These stretches correspond to the middle and lower reaches of rivers, with less fragile ecosystems and lower water quality.
In these locations, the fishing season aligns with the reproductive periods of each species. The fishing season for species like pike, perch, and black bass is as follows:

  • Pike: early in the year until late January and from late April until the end of the year.
  • Perch: at the beginning of the year until mid-March and from mid-May until the end of the year.
  • Black Bass: at the beginning of the year until late April and from early July until the end of the year.
  • Brown Trout: from mid-March until mid-September.
  • Rainbow Trout: from mid-March until the end of the year.
  • Grayling: from mid-May until the end of the year.
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Fly fishing License in France:

In France, possessing a fishing license is essential to enjoy fly fishing in any river or lake across the country. Each department has its own fishing license, totaling 97 available variants. These licenses can be conveniently obtained online through the Carte de Peche website, and over 1.5 million of them are issued annually in French territory.
The following types of licenses are available:

  • Adult or Interfederal Person: Men and women aged 18 and above can regularly enjoy fishing in various modalities, valid throughout the year.
  • Women’s Discovery Card: The Women’s Discovery Card is designed for women aged 18 and above who wish to explore the world of fishing. With access to all fishing modes on a single line, this card provides the opportunity to discover and enjoy this activity year-round.
  • Minor Person Card: The Minor Person Card is intended for those under 18 who want to participate in fishing. With access to all fishing modes and the possibility to use up to 4 lines, this card offers a comprehensive and year-round experience for young enthusiasts.
  • Discovery Card -12 years: The Discovery Card -12 years is designed for children under 12 who want to explore the exciting world of fishing. With access to all fishing modes and the ability to use a single line, this card gives youngsters the opportunity to discover fishing at any time of the year.
  • Weekly Card: The Weekly Card allows fishing for 7 consecutive days, with access to all fishing modes and up to 4 lines.
  • Daily Pass: The Daily Pass offers the opportunity to fish for one day at a specific location, with all fishing modes allowed and up to 4 lines.

For those who wish to fish in various departments of France more economically, there is an alternative to buying individual licenses. This is the Interfederal Fishing License, designed to provide a broader space for fishing practice, all with a single license. Currently, four spaces have been established, covering multiple departments in France:

  • EHGO: 34 federations in 37 departments (www.ehgo.fr).
  • CHI: 36 departments (www.club-halieutique.com).
  • URNE: 17 departments (www.urne-peche.fr).
  • Savoie Reciprocity: 2 departments.

By acquiring a fishing license in France, you become a member of an authorized fishing and aquatic environment protection association (AAPPMA). Through this membership, you indirectly contribute to the funding of various actions aimed at the protection and preservation of our natural environment and its aquatic life.

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5 best fly fishing destinations in France:

1- Haute Savoie Department:

The Haute-Savoie department is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France, near the Swiss border. Renowned for its breathtaking Alpine landscapes, this region is home to iconic destinations such as Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The fishing season in this department runs from March to October, with optimal conditions during March-April and June-September. The main species include brown trout, brook trout, Arctic char, rainbow trout, lake trout, and pike, generally ranging in size from small to medium, with exceptions in certain rivers and lakes.

2- Hautes Alpes Department:

The Hautes Alpes is a department situated in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. Renowned for its awe-inspiring alpine landscapes, captivating rivers, and picturesque lakes, this region has become a favored destination for fly fishing enthusiasts.

 

3- Savoie Department:

The French Savoie, located in the Alps in the southeast of France, offers a myriad of fly fishing opportunities, be it in mountain lakes, rivers, or fabulous torrents. The region is surrounded by spectacular flora and fauna, and boasts an incredible gastronomic heritage, including the renowned Raclette cheese and famous fondue.

Best rivers: The fishing sectors in the Savoie region are as follows: The Arc – Vanoise National Park, Le Guiers – Chartreuse Massif Regional Natural Park, Le Chéran – Bauges Massif Regional Natural Park; Upper Isère Bourg Saint Maurice / Lower Isère combe de Savoie; the Upper Rhône sectors of the department of Yenne / Lucey de Savoie.
Among the most renowned rivers in the region, the following two are worth mentioning:

  • Isère river: The sections we most enjoy fishing in this river are the catch and release area near Moutiers and the upper part in the Cavier area. Additionally, the Doron de Bozel tributary river and its tributary, the Doron de Pralognan, offer fascinating opportunities.
  • Arc River: This stunning river, spanning 127 km and originating from the glaciers of the Alps, runs alongside the Vanoise National Park. It’s important to note that fishing in the Arc River requires a Savoie license, and fishing is permitted up to the Bramans l’Arc dam. Beyond that point lies the Haute Maurienne region.

The best fishing periods are at the beginning of the season and from the end of August until the season’s conclusion, avoiding the thawing season in spring and early summer.
The stretches we find most enticing for fishing include the no-kill fishing stretch located downstream from the village of Termignon and the catch-and-release stretch from the village of Bramans.

 

4- French Pyrenees:

Fly fishing in the south of France, in the Pyrenees, is a highly captivating experience. The region’s crystal-clear rivers and breathtaking landscapes provide a unique and enticing environment for trout fishing enthusiasts. While the trout populations have room for improvement to match the allure of the Spanish Pyrenees, it has the potential to become an exceptional fly fishing destination through increased adoption of catch and release practices.
Before embarking on your fly fishing adventure, it is essential to consult the regulations and obtain a fishing license from the corresponding department. In the French Pyrenees, the following departments are involved: Pyrenees Atlantiques, Hautes Pyrenees, Haute Garonne, L’ariege, and Pyrenees Orientales.

Season: The fishing season varies depending on each department. For instance, in the Hautes Pyrenees department (65), the season for first category waters (best waters for trout fishing) differs based on the type of scenery. For rivers, the season starts on March 11 and ends on September 17, while for mountain lakes, it commences on May 27 and concludes on October 1.

Fishing license: To obtain a fishing license for each department, you can visit the website http://www.cartedepeche.fr/. In the Hautes Pyrenees department, you’ll find three main types of licenses: a one-day license for €17, a one-week license for €40, or a one-year license for €80. Additionally, there are discounts available for minors, retired individuals, and women.

Our favorite river: The Gave d’Aspe, a tributary of the Gave d’Oloron, holds a special place in my heart as I had the opportunity to fish it for many summers during my youth. Let me share with you some detailed insights about this captivating river.

The Gave d’Aspe is situated in the region known as «Vallées des Gaves» in Bearn, within the Pyrénées Atlantiques department (64).
This river is renowned for its pristine, pure, and transparent waters, reminiscent of some of the rivers in the Julian Alps. In its upper section, it meanders through a small mountain ravine, surrounded by beech and hazelnut trees. Dry fly fishing is particularly enjoyable in this area. Moving down to the middle part, you’ll find a more spacious section with intriguing contrasts between strong currents and tranquil corners adorned with beautiful, crystal-clear pools. The road that follows the river offers an opportunity to explore the valley in its entirety. As you reach the lower part, the pace slows, and the river is inhabited by large trout until it merges with the Gave d’Oloron river. It is also worth mentioning that in this stretch of the river, there are some salmon that migrate up the river from the Atlantic Sea.
The landscapes vary between meadows and forests, providing a habitat for endangered species like the capercaillie and the Pyrenean bears.
Our favorite stretches of this river are the section between the village of Etsaut and Bedoux, as well as the urban catch and release stretch in the village of Oloron.

Species: Brown trout, salmon, char, and rainbow trout.
Contact with the fishing federation: We recommend visiting the website https://www.peche65.fr/. On this page, you will find comprehensive information about regulations, fishing areas, fishing courses, season opening and closing dates, and even webcams showcasing the rivers.

 

5- Ain Departament:

Season: For both first and second category rivers where trout inhabit, the opening dates extend from March 11 to September 17. As for grayling fishing, the season starts on May 20 and concludes on September 17.

Fishing license: The fishing license can be conveniently purchased on the website http://www.cartedepeche.fr/. There are various options available, including one-day licenses for €11.5, one-week licenses for €34, and one-year licenses for €80. Additionally, discounts are offered for minors and women.

Best rivers: The Ain region offers an array of excellent rivers for fly fishing, including the Ain river, Riez river, Veyron river, Valserine river, Albarine river, and Lange river. Among these, the Ain river is particularly renowned and can be fished from its source in the village of Conte to its meeting with the Blye reservoir.

For grayling fishing enthusiasts, we recommend targeting the Ain river between Pont d’Ain and Chatillon la Palud. Additionally, the Oignin river and the Albarine river provide excellent opportunities for grayling fishing.

Species: Brown trout, goat trout, and grayling.

Contact with the fishing federation: We encourage you to visit the website https://www.federation-peche-ain.com/ for valuable information such as fishing regulations, fishing areas, fishing courses, season opening and closing dates, and even webcams showcasing the rivers for an enhanced fishing experience.

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